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tsuomela on 2012-02-28This paper has two halves. First, I piece together what we know about Margaret Thatcher's training and employment as a scientist. She took science subjects at school; she studied chemistry at Oxford, arriving during World War II and coming under the influence (and comment) of two excellent women scientists, Janet Vaughan and Dorothy Hodgkin. She did a fourth-year dissertation on X-ray crystallography of gramicidin just after the war. She then gathered four years' experience as a working industrial chemist, at British Xylonite Plastics and at Lyons. Second, my argument is that, having lived the life of a working research scientist, she had a quite different view of science from that of any other minister responsible for science. This is crucial in understanding her reaction to the proposals—associated with the Rothschild reforms of the early 1970s—to reinterpret aspects of science policy in market terms. Although she was strongly pressured by bodies such as the Royal Society to reaffirm the established place of science as a different kind of entity—one, at least at core, that was unsuitable to marketization—Thatcher took a different line.